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Hack 2: Get Standing (Somebody Sold the Attic)

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Hack 2: Get Standing (Somebody Sold the Attic)


Published 2006


<< Hack 1 ]] 10 Government Hacks — Slides From a Talk at OSCON 2006 [[ Hack 3 >>

Hack Number 1 was about being allowed to attend meetings by qualifying as a journalist. Sometimes though, you have to be an aggrieved party to get anybody to listen. I was reading BoingBoing one morning and they were talking about an exclusive deal the Smithsonian Institution had cut with Showtime to do films that used the archives or the staff. Ken Burns was upset. The whole deal was all very vague and hush hush and the contract governing the deal was a secret. That seemed strange, so I sent off a FOIA request and got the kind folks at EFF to represent me (you can't do much better than this for representation).

What I've found most puzzling about the Showtime Situation is the idea that the Smithsonian has tried to create an Institution Accountable to Nobody. Though the Institution purports to "follow the intent and spirit" of the Freedom of Information Act, the FOIA request I filed was acknowledged and then resolutely ignored. My request to the Chief Justice to view minutes of Regents meetings was likewise ignored. The argument is that the Smithsonian has two halves, a Private Trust and a Public Trust. To the Private Trust, I have no standing.

It should be noted that the show is not yet over as there are still several fat ladies who have yet to sing. In particular, a slew of powerful members of Congress from both sides of the aisle don't appear to be very amused with the goings-on, nor with being told that the affair is none of their concern, that they don't have standing.

Smithsonian-Showtime Paper Trail:
Official and Unofficial ActsDateWashington Post
Apr 04, 2006 Smithsonian Deal With Showtime Restricts Access Filmmakers
FOIA RequestApr 04, 2006
Letter from 200 PeopleApr 17, 2004
Apr 18, 2006End Smithsonian-Showtime Deal, Filmmakers and Historians Ask
Apr 19, 2006Smithsonian Investigating Its Sales Division's Salaries
Apr 19, 2006Ken Burns Gives Voice to Filmmakers' Concerns
Apr 24, 2006Secret contracts, soaring salaries—they don't belong at the Smithsonian
Smithsonian Books DisbarredApr 25, 2006
Apr 26, 2006Historians Protest Smithsonian's Deals
FOIA Intent to RespondApr 26, 2006
Letter from Secretary Small(html)Apr 27, 2006
Letter from U.S. Congress(html)Apr 27, 2006
Apr 29, 2006Capitol Hill Joins Criticism of Smithsonian Film Deal
May 05, 2006Smithsonian TV Contract Spurs Panel To Cut Funds
May 09, 2006Smithsonian Deal Was Not Made in Secret, Small Says
Response from Regents(html)May 09, 2006
Letter to Chief Justice(html)May 10, 2006
Letter from HistoriansMay 10, 2006
May 11, 2006Smithsonian Salary Cap Passes Panel
May 25, 2006Small Linked To Scandal at Fannie Mae
Committee on House AdministrationMay 25, 2006
May 26, 2006Smithsonian Hands Over TV Contract
Inspector General Announces AuditJun 05, 2006
Jun 06, 2006Smithsonian Inspector General Resigns, Cites Office Cutbacks
Jun 10, 2006The Nation's Attic, Underpriced
Jun 10, 2006GOP's Grassley Faults Small's Smithsonian Stewardship
Letter from Senate of ScientistsJun 14, 2006
Jun 18, 2006Spreading the Wealth
Jun 22, 2006The Reliable Source
Letter from 500 PeopleNov 26, 2006
Government Accountability OfficeDec 15, 2006
Dec 16, 2006Smithsonian Deal With Showtime Passes Muster
Exclusive Deal with CorbisJan 24, 2007
IG Report on Non-Trust SalariesJan 31, 2007
IG Report on SBV SalariesJan 31, 2007
Feb 01, 2007Report Scrutinizes Smithsonian Salaries
Letter to Inspector GeneralFeb 01, 2007
Letter to General CounselFeb 01, 2007
Feb 13, 2007Oliver North's Tiff With the Smithsonian
Feb 25, 2007Smithsonian Head's Expenses 'Lavish,' Audit Says
Mar 20, 2007Former IG Says Small Asked Her to Drop Audit
Mar 27, 2007Senate Pushes for Smithsonian Reform
Mar 27, 2007Smithsonian's Small Quits in Wake of Inquiry


Run time 3' 00"
Producer Carl Malamud
Audio/Visual sound, color

Credits

Support for this project was provided by the Center for American Progress, ISC, and Stichting NLnet.

This clip has a restrictive license (no derivative works) because it reuses a small amount of footage previously shown on C-SPAN as fair use for this news series and parody of compelling public interest.

This clip has a restrictive license (no derivative works) because it reuses a small amount of audio previously recorded by the Grateful Dead as fair use for this news series and commentary of compelling public interest.

comment
Reviews

Reviewer: Der Nister - favoritefavorite - January 30, 2007
Subject: Undercutting your own credibility
Hack 2 was the first clip I watched, hoping to become more informed.

The Hacker seriously undercuts his credibility by use of a video stunt -- six or so repetitions of a 2-second phrase, "tremendous hullabaloo," from one of the speakers, the last presented with audio distortion so that the speaker comes out with a squeaky voice. This stunt makes me wonder if the Hacker used other, less obvious distortions, in particular whether his selection of clips pieced together to create a story wasn't seriously unbalanced.

My take is that this is not a series one should rely on for a complete or fair picture. Maybe it was never intended to be, but with the way the Net works, I followed a list link that didn't indicated that the would be one-sided.
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